Thursday, December 22, 2011

a different kind of service

Blame it on the time of year, but I've been thinking a lot about 2011 this week.

I was pulled so taut the first couple of months, clinging to something I thought was right. I was determined to stick with it no matter how hard or ridiculous it was. It may be the closest I've ever come to a nervous breakdown, or for that matter, to taking myself to a psychiatrist. In that time, I allowed myself to focus so tightly on the situation at hand that I nearly lost sight of...everything else.

The second quarter was almost a relief after that. I finally snapped; the something I was clinging onto officially failed. The only thing left to do was pick up the pieces, which in retrospect was surprisingly easy given the vast number of blessings in my life. I re-collected my resources, all the things I'd lost sight of while I was focusing so much. I called old friends and begged for reassurance and talked my way through some of the issues I was facing. I made new friends who let me cry on their shoulders and sleep on their couches and absorb their love and spirit. I tried to acclimate to a quiet life after the intensity of college, where I worked at a job without prestige and questioned my contributions to the world in general.

Just as I was getting good at life again, just as I re-learned to love myself despite anyone else, and to rely on the Lord for my wellbeing, I met Chris. It blows my mind how much anxiety I've had through adulthood about dating. I wish I could have sat myself down and told myself about Chris. "It will be worth the wait," I would have said. "You'll have an experience that will show you how good it can be. In the meantime, just love being with your friends and learn about God. That's all you need to do."

The last quarter began with a move across the country. This was definitely the right thing to do, and I have been surrounded by God's love and that of my friends, but I'm still not sure I totally have my feet underneath me again after that. Maybe that's because I'm living paycheck to paycheck now, and I've never done that before. Maybe it's because I haven't really made friends here yet -- my roommates are seldom home, and most of my ward's activities are when I'm still at work. Maybe it's the combination of the two making me feel like I don't have a lot to offer.

That said, I told Chris (in the first real conversation we ever had!) that I have reached a point in my life where I HAVE to learn to accept help from other people, because I am no longer in a position to give very much of it.

I took this to the Lord today, and got an answer. (Thank you Brother Kern, and BYU-Idaho podcast. And thank you, Heavenly Father, for frequently giving me such prompt answers! I think it's because He knows I'd freak out and do something crazy otherwise.)

One of God's most precious promises is that nothing ever stays the same. Eventually, even if it's 80 years from now, that I will have the opportunities to serve in all of the ways that are dearest to my heart. My task right now is not to throw dinner parties or go visit friends. I simply do not have the resources to do so, and that makes me sad:

"O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart! ...but behold, I do sin in my wish."

I sin in my wish because I lose sight of the resources I do have to serve Heavenly Father. I have a lot of time on my hands, which I can use to keep my house clean for my roommates. I also use my free time to do my part to be financially independent, whether it's through doing a little extra freelance work or figuring out how to live even more cheaply.

As part of who I am and what I love, I have a plenitude of words. So, I can make phone calls; I can leave notes. I can (gradually) make friends and thereby uplift them using my willingness to talk to new people. "Ye are the light of the world..."

And, perhaps most importantly, I have the Lord. I know Heavenly Father is proud of how hard I'm trying, and honors my willingness to serve even as He is patient with me while I figure out how He wants me to do that these days. Because I have the gospel, I can fulfill my calling as a Sunday School teacher, indexer, and visiting teacher in the way that He wants me to. Because I have the gospel, and try to live my life in a way that invites the Spirit, I hope that when people come in contact with me, they will be a little more conscious of God and how precious they are to Him. Because I have the gospel, I can continue to grow more like Christ. I can learn charity without neediness, hard work without resentment, and good cheer without ideal situations.

I can do my best.

Perhaps that's what this year has taught me the most. My best really is good enough. God really does love me, even with all of my imperfections. He also has a great purpose for me, and although I am not able to see the end now, I can have perfect knowledge that this moment, this one right here, is just one necessary step along the way.

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